Coastal communities monitoring Hurricane Maria closely

Video A pile-up of debris in Dominica in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. – Contributed

Hurricane Maria has rolled back into the Atlantic Ocean after demolishing Puerto Rico - and now may be headed north toward the shores of North Carolina, forecasters warned Sunday. A tropical storm watch or hurricane watch could be issued by the National Hurricane Center for parts of the North Carolina coast on Sunday, but most effects from the storm would be felt around mid-week. Those with interests from the Carolinas and along the Mid-Atlantic should continue to monitor Maria and be prepared for potential direct impacts.

"Maria's forecast track has shifted closer to the USA east coast, and it is becoming increasingly likely that some direct impacts will occur along portions of the coast next week", the Hurricane Center's 11 a.m. update said.

On Sunday afternoon the storm is about 425 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras.

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The NHC said the Carolina and Mid-Atlantic coasts should continue monitoring the storm, as its hurricane-force winds still extend about 60 miles from the eye.

Reports from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds are now near 110 miles per hour with higher gusts.

Millions of people in the Caribbean are still reeling from Hurricane Maria's devastation. Either way, beaches up and down the east coast will experience unsafe surf and ocean conditions from Maria.

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MARIA SURF/SWELL POTENTIAL: Swells generated by Maria are affecting Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the northern coast of Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas.

"Maria's swells will result in high surf, rip currents, hazardous boating conditions, and possibly coastal flooding Sunday through Wednesday".

At least 15 people were killed in Puerto Rico, El Nuevo Día‏ newspaper reported.

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